Power Line

Update on the Wuhan coronavirus in Italy

A week ago, I reported the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases in Italy by region. Today, I’ll update these numbers, my main interest being in how regions that were slow to be hit by the virus — i.e. southern Italian regions — are doing.

Let’s start with northern Italy, though. A week ago, the Lombardy region, where the virus first hit hard, had around 28,000 reported cases. As of yesterday, it had around 41,000 — about a 50 percent increase.

The numbers for some other northern regions are:

Emilia Romagna — around 7,500 cases a week ago, around 13,000 yesterday
Veneto — around 5,000 cases a week ago, around 8,300 yesterday
Piedmont — around 4,500 cases a week ago, around 8,200 yesterday

Now, for southern Italy. The Lazio region includes Rome, with a population of more than 4 million. A week ago, it reported 1,363 cases. Yesterday, it reported 2,706 — a doubling.

The same basic picture emerges from the Campagna region, which includes Naples, population around 2 million. It reported 936 cases a week ago, compared to 1,739 as of yesterday.

Sicily reported 630 cases a week ago. Yesterday, it reported 1,460.

Do the numbers from the south amount to good news or bad news? I’m not sure. To me, they suggest that the virus is being mitigated but not contained (if I understand correctly what these catch words mean in this context). It is spreading in the south, but not as rapidly as one might have feared.

Rome and Naples, for example, do not appear to be overwhelmed with new cases, so far. Both cities have been locked down for most of the month. Perhaps this suggests that, with a lockdown, certain regions and cities in the U.S. can avoid large scale infection.

As for nationwide Italian stats, it’s being widely reported that the number of new cases and new deaths declined somewhat yesterday (March 29). I don’t put much stock in a less than dramatic one-day drop.

Somewhat more encouraging was a sharp decline in the number of new people being taken into intensive care with this virus. It fell from 124 on Saturday to 50 on Sunday (yesterday).

Again, however, that’s just one day. We can’t yet conclude that a favorable trend is emerging in Italy as a whole.

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